Whole Foods Making Strides in Labeling – Starting with Non GMOs
November 16, 2009
By David Gutierrez
Whole Foods Market has announced plans to have all of its store-brand products independently tested to certify that they are made without the use of any genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
“Since there is no U.S. regulation regarding disclosure on products manufactured with GMO ingredients, we are committed to helping our shoppers make confident choices by knowing that what they are buying has been verified as meeting the standards of the Non-GMO Project,” said Senior Global Vice President of Purchasing Michael Besancon.
Ensuring a food supply free of GMO ingredients can be difficult for manufacturers, since GM and unmodified crops are often mixed together prior to distribution. In addition, the prevalence of genetic modification in some crops – 90 percent of U.S.-grown soy is genetically modified – can make finding traditional varieties difficult.
Whole Foods is the largest retailer to ever take part in the Non-GMO Project’s Product Verification Program in order to prove its GMO-free claims. Other companies whose products already carry a Non-GMO seal include Lundberg Family Farms, San J, SK Foods and Whole Soy & Co.
The Product Verification Program provides a GMO-free seal to any products that have tested free of GMO contamination in a combination of document-based reviews, on-site inspections and genetic tests.
Whole Foods called on other segments of the food industry to join it in seeking Non-GMO verification. It is holding a Web seminar on August 26 to educate the food industry about the Non-GMO Project and its Product Verification Program.
“As you can imagine, the level of diligence involved will require an enormous amount of effort at every step in the manufacturing process,” said Non-GMO Project board member and Whole Foods Quality Standards Coordinator Joe Dickson. “The more participation we have in the program, the more rapidly the industry will realize efficiencies. Economies of scale will ultimately have a real and lasting impact on the available supply of non-GMO ingredients.”
Whole Foods’ in-house brands should carry the GMO-free seal by October.